News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 2 to 3 p.m.

'Boxtrolls' directors talk long, 'peculiar style' of production

Every 4 seconds of
Every 4 seconds of "The Boxtrolls" took a week to make.
Screengrab from "Boxtrolls" trailer

Listen to story

Download this story 13MB

The new film "The Boxtrolls" is the biggest production ever to be done in stop-motion animation.

Each adorable character was carefully built by hand and every gesture and facial expression requires its own set up, which means it typically took an animator an entire week to complete just four seconds worth of footage.

For more on this painstaking labor of love, the film's directors, Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable, joined Take Two in studio.


A film like this must take a very long time to make…

Graham Annable:

Each project is unique and different and follows it’s only special journey, and I’d say from actual concept to the finish line for the Boxtrolls took almost eight years. It was a long haul.

A lot of that was preproduction and figuring out how to adapt Alan Snow’s amazing “Here Be Monsters” book into a film. It’s a huge book and it was a huge task to figure out how we were going to make a movie out of it.

On picking a book you could commit so many years of your life to:

Anthony Stacchi:

Well you really just look for the confluence of a lot of different things. You know, you want to think that the possibility is there to do something with a really great story, with a great heart, and then also to make a movie that nobody's ever seen before with a distinctive look.

I immediately cottoned on to really liking these box troll characters that were Alan Snow's, I think, the most unique creation that's in the book. And I loved this core story about a little boy who had grown up underground, who comes above ground to find his place in the world.

And I felt like here was a studio [Laika], that we could make a big film. You know, a bigger stop-motion film than you're used to seeing in the past. You know, an action-adventure comedy that wouldn't feel like you're trapped on a little, tiny model train set like some stop-motion films, that we could really open it up.

 On creating more than 1.4 million facial expressions for the main character, Eggs:

Graham Annable:

We used this peculiar style of RP-production, where we print physical faces out of a 3D-printer. You know, we create the faces digitally in a computer, and we look at them and we get all the nuance and performance we want out of the faces there and then we hit the print button and print out thousands of faces that actually get applied to the puppets on the sets while the animators are working on them.